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Megan Simmons headshot with name.

Why I Serve – Megan Simmons

How did you get involved in serving nonprofit organizations?
Volunteering. Recently, for a start-up public health group, and before that, my public library, and a wonderful nonprofit daycare. And throughout it all, fostering dogs (and the occasional cat, rabbit, or pig).

What inspires you to serve the common good?
I am inspired both by our clients’ journeys and destinations. The journey of a campaign is filled with exhilarating moments when hard work pays off: an energized steering committee meeting, a donor who makes an unprecedented gift, a well-run public launch. The destination is similarly fulfilling: the new building, program, service, etc. that becomes reality because of the generosity and passion of an entire donor community.

One word that best describes how you work?
“Learning.” I like to collect information as I go. It’s a reason I love writing cases for support: I learn about different pockets of our world through the lenses of the organizations we work with. Ask me about green algae in Ohio or the movement for reproductive rights in Argentina. Then, ask me why you should give to the nonprofits that work in these fields!

Where can someone find you when not at work?
Outside. If I’m lucky—hiking, skiing, canoeing. Otherwise, running or enjoying our patio.

What everyday task are you good at that might surprise people?
I write nice thank you cards.

What are you currently reading, or what do you recommend?
Fiction: Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Nonfiction: Nudge, by Richard Thaler.
Other: The New Yorker’s weekly summer flash fiction series —

What’s some good advice you’ve received recently?
Someone recently paraphrased Teddy Roosevelt’s “daring greatly” quote in conversation. Perhaps not advice, but still a good reminder. The quote: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

What gives you hope for the future of philanthropy over the next 5 years?
I’ve seen my generation—Gen Y—rally around social movements with passion and urgency; I’ve contributed to crowdfunding initiatives that emerge and meet fundraising goals overnight; I’ve witnessed people—like Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York—use social media to tell stories and raise funds in inventive new ways. I am inspired by those who harness the changing technologies and ways of the world for good.

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